If the DCPP comes into your home and has reason to suspect abuse or neglect is taking place, they have the option of taking the child out of the home immediately in what is called a Dodd removal. These removals are incredibly jarring moments in a parent and child's life, which really can't be prepared for. The DCPP has even gone so far as to threaten an immediate removal to coerce a parent into allowing more access into the family's life.
A Dodd removal and subsequent hearing is a type of court order called an Order to Show Cause. This means that the DCPP is seeking immediate relief from the court, and that the parents must show that their is no cause for the Dodd removal at a hearing. Since, the belief is that their will be immediate or irreparable harm to the child there doesn't need to be any advanced notice of the order being produced.
This process can be a true emotional whirlwind. The sudden removal of a child can make a parent feel like they have no recourse. That's why every parent going into a Dodd hearing will need an attorney, either one provided by the court or one that's been paid for. Usually they are meeting with only a few moments to get to know each other before they step into the courtroom. Although, this might seem like a huge problem, there is no permanent outcome at the Dodd hearing. The big purpose of it is to determine if the DCPP acted correctly in their removal of the child from the home.
While your attorney may not know the particulars of the case, he is allowed to argue on your behalf. This is important to remember, your attorney can try to take away from the Division’s reasoning for the Dodd removal but it won’t be at this point where a legal defense is put forward.
There are a few outstanding circumstances that could warrant the child coming back to the house. If someone who was directly responsible for the removal leaves or if a relative agrees to come and supervise the living situation. You can also make requests for services such as counseling that will help your child return home.
You will also at this point have a chance to let the court know if there are any family friends or relatives that are in a position to take the child. The division will do a subsequent investigation on them to make sure they’re a suitable living space for the child while the case plays out in court.
When there is a child’s safety at stake the court will always err on the side of caution, so you should be mentally prepared to leave the Dodd hearing without your child. This will be a difficult thing to hear, but it’s important for them to remain focused and resilient, these hearings are incredibly stressful.
To help with the fear many feel going into these hearings we want you to think that this is not a criminal case. You will not be arrested at the hearing, and this is not the end of the road. You will be given a second date where a more extensive hearing will take place. What is imperative to take away from this is that it will be an uphill battle from the Dodd hearing, so make sure you have an attorney who can help you climb.
If you are seeking representation for a DCPP/DYFS or other family law matter call today for a free consultation 800-709-1131 or fill out a contact form on our website for a no-cost consultation.We hope to hear from you today!